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City building department earns its keep
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Madeira Beach Mayor Travis Palladeno, right, shakes hands with City Attorney Thomas Trask after Trask swore in Palladeno for a new term.
MADEIRA BEACH – The city of Madeira Beach’s building department has apparently become the major moneymaker that had been predicted when it was created, just a year and a half ago.

The department’s revenue producing status was evident at the April 8 City Commission meeting, when a resolution was passed increasing the budgeted building permit revenue for the current fiscal year by $260,000. Another resolution took out $15,000 in expenses to run the building department.

The $245,000 “surplus” going to the city’s general fund was “impressive,” in the words of Commissioner Terry Lister, especially considering that up until mid-2012, Madeira Beach had no building department. Prior to that, building services had been provided to the city by Treasure Island, for a yearly fee of $160,000.

In the summer of 2012, City Manager Shane Crawford said the city “could make a substantial profit, well over $100,000 during periods of heavy construction,” by gaining control of the building permitting process.

The follow-up saw the agreement with Treasure Island terminated and a gradual takeover by the city of the building services function.

Madeira Beach now provides internal building management services, including a fulltime building official and permit technician.

Crawford said after the meeting that the city’s decision to handle building services, especially permitting, had really paid off.

“We’re running our own building department now,” he said. “Customer service, it’s all right here.”

The building operation has been very profitable for the city so far, Crawford said, though he acknowledged the number of projects that have been started and are currently underway in the city has upped the revenues. The numbers are expected to tail off and level out as these jobs are completed and fewer new ones are begun, Crawford said.

A significant portion of the building department revenues going to the general fund will be retained for future building program operating expenses, according to Florida law, helping the department’s viability in both lean and boom construction times.

Election results verified

Mayor Travis Palladeno’s and District 2 Commissioner Nancy Hodges’ landslide wins over their opponents in the March 11 elections were verified in a resolution passed by the commission.

The official vote tally showed Palladeno gaining nearly 80 percent of the vote against Victor Cucaro. Hodges was re-elected by a 73 to 27 percent margin.

District 1 Commissioner Terry Lister was re-elected without opposition.

Palladeno will serve a 3-year term. Hodges and Lister’s commission terms are two years.

Hodges named vice mayor

The commission unanimously chose Commissioner Hodges as the next vice mayor. She replaces Terry Lister in that role.

Palladeno said Hodges deserved the position.

“You’ve done an outstanding job,” he told her.

Resident’s ideas applauded

The commission will discuss several ideas for civic improvements offered by a resident Warren Keenan. Keenan spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting. He presented a number of suggestions he believes will benefit the city. Palladeno said a couple would be put on a future agenda for consideration and possibly adopted.

One is to replace a few parking spaces at John’s Pass and Archibald Park with motorcycle racks. Up to four motorcycles could occupy one vehicle space, increasing the city’s parking revenue, Keenan said.

Keenan also recommended providing free boat launching for Madeira Beach residents at the city marina. The charge is now $10, which Keenan said “goes pretty quick.” Several Treasure Island launching spots are free, Keenan pointed out.

Free boat launching, or a much-reduced fee, would increase business at the marina, as additional boaters would purchase gas and other supplies. Palladeno said both ideas were worth a further look by the commission.

Keenan also had suggestions for lighting the John’s Pass Bridge, which Palladeno pointed out is a state operation. Another suggestion was to lower the speed limit during times of flooding. Keenan said he had more ideas that he would bring to a future commission meeting.
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